Holiday boat parades will be held this December on waterways from Marco Island to Fort Myers Beach. The processions of decked-out decks are a great way to enjoy the holidays Florida style, and every year, homeowners along the boat routes host parties to watch the boats pass in review.
First to take to the water will be the seafaring Santas of Fort Myers Beach. The Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce Holiday Boat Parade will commence as darkness falls, around 6 p.m., Dec. 5. The fleet will muster across from the Pink Shell, proceed to the end of Old San Carlos Blvd., where the town is hosting caroling, out through the canals toward San Carlos Island and down Ft. Myers Beach, ending at the Matanzas Inn. There is no entry fee, and prizes will be awarded. Approximately 20 boats are expected. Interested captains should contact the Chamber at (239) 454-7500.
The Village on Venetian Bay, in Naples, holds their annual Boat Parade from 6 to 9 p.m., Dec. 10. The procession will make its way up and down Venetian Bay, with homes, shops and restaurants along the water providing excellent viewing. Prizes, gift cards to The Village and free overnight dockage are available to all registered boats. A new addition this year is a $1,000 donation from The Village to the preferred charity of the first-place vessel. Santa and strolling entertainers will be on hand at the shopping center, and new, unwrapped toys will be collected to benefit the Holiday Gift Shop of the Guadalupe Center of Immokalee. For additional information or to register your vessel, call Amber at (239) 403-2204.
The 20th annual Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade will stage 6 p.m., Dec. 12, next to channel marker 32, just south of the Naples Yacht Club. Sponsored by the Marine Industries Association of Collier County (MIACC), the parade will follow a new route this year, traveling to marker 40, and then turning around between the Naples Sailing & Yacht Club and the Naples Boat Club, and proceeding to the City Dock before repeating the same route. The parade will not be visible from Bayview Park, but restaurants along the route will provide viewing spots. Many have contributed prizes, as have a number of boating-related businesses.
Boats of all sizes are encouraged to attend, and there are many prize categories. There is no entry fee, but donations will be accepted to support the work of the Ricky King Foundation, assisting families with seriously ill children. MIACC says the captains’ meeting on Dec. 9 is a must for those wishing to participate. For more information, contact MIACC at (239) 261-0882.
The Bonita Springs Holiday Boat Parade, sponsored by the Bonita Springs Noon Rotary Club, kicks off between 5:30 and 6 p.m., Dec. 12 by the Fish House restaurant on Bonita Beach Road. The fleet will proceed up the Imperial River to U.S. 41 before turning around, with the parade expected to last two hours or more. Public viewing is available from the Imperial River boat launching ramp on U.S. 41. A captains’ party will be held one week before the parade. Donations for the charitable work of the Rotary Club will be accepted. For more information, call Baywater Boat Rentals at (239) 495-0455.
Marco Island’s Christmas Island Style Boat Parade on Dec. 19, will form in Factory Bay at 6 p.m., and proceed upriver to the Marco Island Yacht Club. They will return to Factory Bay, cruise past The Esplanade, pass by Hideaway Beach and La Peninsula on the Isles of Capri, and end across from the Snook Inn, where judges will be gathered. Parade viewers at The Esplanade will also vote for the winner of the People’s Choice award. Last year, 18 boats participated, with private vessels up to 50 feet in length. There is no entry fee, and prizes will be awarded Jan. 11. For more information, call (239) 250-8348 or e-mail Christmasislandstyle@comcast.net.